About Gillian L
Lives in Rome, Italy
Since Oct 2010
I am a Rome based blogger, ebook writer, information curator, coffee and cocktail drinker. My friends call me “the Source” and I am your go-to girl for the best information on just about anything in the eternal city, the Amalfi Coast and Capri. www.gillianslists.com
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Historic Sites, Valleys
Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Siena is a great base for a few days in Tuscany. Climb the 400-plus steps of the Torre de Mangia bell tower to get the full effect of the Piazza del Campo and the city's ochre-colored rooftops, and get inspired by the Duomo's intricate floor.
This expansive space is the center of life in Siena. Ringed by shops, bars and restaurants, Piazza del Campo offers something for everyone. The nine distinct sections that make up the Piazza symbolize the Government of the Nine, which oversaw a peaceful and creative period in Siena from 1287-1355.
Situated on Piazza del Campo, Bar Il Palio is a favorite haunt of locals and visitors alike. Whether you start your day in Siena with a cappuccino and cornetto, the traditional Italian breakfast, or stop in for a mid-afternoon espresso or an after dinner drink, you'll be treated to some of the best street theater in Tuscany.
San Gimignano is one of my favorite towns in Tuscany, just the right size for a day trip. Cobbled streets, flower-decked windows, ceramic shops, cozy restaurants... check, check and check. During the 14th century families in the town built towers to tout their own power. Today, 13 of those 72 towers remain in this town that feels trapped in time.
If you love cheese, then you will love Pienza — Tuscany's famous Pecorino di Pienza cheese is sold in almost every shop along its main street. This tiny town is big on charm too. For heart-stopping views, take a walk along the streets that ring the town.
The Val' d'Orcia almost defies description — or it makes one fall back on cliches like 'stunning' and 'breathtaking.' It is ridiculously pretty. There are vast open spaces with rolling hills that in the summer are lush and green and filled with sunflowers. In the fall and then winter, they transform from golden to dark taupe as the clay soil is tilled and rests for another season. Drive the twisty county roads, stop for pictures and enjoy our own instagrammable moments.
For centuries, this small, pretty town has been attracting travelers with its mineral-rich waters and their healing qualities. The water in Bagno Vignoni is steamy hot, so bathing here is a great thing to do on a cold afternoon, but even in summer the warm water is somehow refreshing.
Lovely Lucca is also an excellent base for your time in Tuscany. There are more than 100 churches to visit, plus music performances almost every night of the year, and plenty of piazzas in which to while a few hours away.
This historic bar has been serving coffee since the 1920s. It's well known for its pastries, but you can also come here for an early evening aperitivo.
Walking or biking along the four kilometers of paths that ring the city of Lucca is an absolute must during your time in Tuscany. There are shady, tree-lined expanses, grassy areas for picnics, benches for resting, and views out over the mountains and the rooftops.
About a 20-minute drive from Lucca, Borgo a Mozzano is worthy of a quick stop for its incredible bridge. The official name is 'Ponte della Maadalena,' but it is also called the 'Ponte del Diavolo,' or the 'Devil's Bridge.' In medieval times, the bridge was an important link in the pilgrim route between France and Rome. Today, it's an incredible example of the period's architectural engineering.
Tuscany is not all charming hill towns and rolling hills. It also has about 400 miles of coastline. You've got the wild and romantic area known as the Maremma and the glitzy Forte di Marmi. And then there is Viareggio, a lively beach town with Liberty-style architecture and white sand beaches. Visit the historic Caffe Margherita on the 'lungomare,' rent bikes to explore the nearby pine forest, or rent a beach chair and umbrella and spend the day sunbathing.